Keeping Learning Going During School Closings 

Hey, y'all. It has been one crazy week hasn't it?! As of the writing of this post, our school is still in session next week, but I know many of us aren't due to COVID-19. All over social media (I have spent way too much time on there the last couple of days!), teachers are wondering what to send home to kids for work during this time.

My district is tightening their purse strings quite a bit on copies and things, and our students at the elementary level don't have devices to take home with them so video conferencing is out of the question for most. So what does that leave? A call for some creative thinking.

Learning from home work doesn't have to involve massive packets or crazy technology. If and when we go out on quarantine, here are few things I plan on doing to make things easier on all of us.

1. Email parents (or call or ClassDojo--whatever I need to do to get parents in the know)
I'll be sending out a list of ways to keep things going while we ride out this storm. Detailing information in writing is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. Send out a "schedule"
I don't expect parents to be able to all be on the same subject at the same time, but sending out a general time frame of how long we spend on each subject gives parents an idea of how we can best meet our little's learning needs during this time. For instance, I might tell parents to have their child read for an hour a day and write for a half hour. It certainly doesn't have to all be in one sitting. It just gives families a guideline to go by.

3. Provide a list of ideas
Most parents have no idea what the heck we do with their kids all day (or how we get it all done!). Providing parents with a list of ideas is key. Here are my ideas:
(And yes, some involve technology because, even though the district doesn't supply devices for littles to take home, most of them have something they can use.)

  • Read (I can't say this enough. Bonus points for reading responses in a journal or online classroom forum)
  • Practice spelling words by typing them, rainbow writing, cutting letters out of a magazine, etc. 
  • Write (grocery lists, stories, letters, blog ideas, text messages, anything)
  • Give your child math problems to practice solving on scrap paper (parents will naturally differentiate this as they work with their child) 
  • Go on a shape hunt
  • Divide cookies into fractions 
  • Build something
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Find a newspaper and read it
  • Research a topic of interest and put together a report
  • Use online learning apps like Epic, BrainpopJr., Sushi Monster (in the App store), Vooks, Storyline Online, NatGeo, etc. 
  • Get outside and play a game or run around (PE time)
  • Play an instrument (music)
  • Make a picture of some kind (art) 

4. Provide a way for kids and families to share their work with you
If your families are already familiar with SeeSaw and have access to it, your job got a whole lot easier. They can simply upload their work that way. If you haven't used it yet, but have tech savvy families who are ready to learn on the fly, this could be an option for you, too. Students could also send in pictures of their work through email, ClassDojo portfolios, or text (if you're willing to share your phone number with families during this time). I sent my students' Google Classroom logins home with them over winter break. If you have enough students who's parents can help them navigate Google Classroom at home, this is another option for turning in things students are working on. 

5. Stay in contact
Staying in contact with families is essential for keeping things running smoothly. Not all parents are confident in their abilities to teach their kids, but providing ways families can help their child while we ride this out will do wonders for keeping things on track academically. Parents will have questions. Being available for them and coaching parents through this will empower parents to help their kids through more academic obstacles in the future. 

These are my low-tech ideas for supporting students and families during this time. What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments. And good luck!

Stay sweet,